Can my IRA pay into a Trust?

As you may be aware, if your child inherits your IRA, he can "stretch" out the withdrawals in order to continue the deferred tax growth for a number of years. Naming your child a beneficiary of your IRA can be a problem if: (1) your child is a minor and you don't want him to inherit a large amount upon turning 18 (the legal age of majority in Oregon); or (2) your child has creditor problems (or may have creditor problems in the future). Most people are unaware that if you have one or both of the above mentioned problems, you can still have your IRA pay into a special kind of trust (called a "See Through Trust"), and limit distributions to your child until he reaches a certain age, or prevent your IRA money from going to your child's creditors, while still benefiting from the stretch provision. See Through Trusts can be further categorized as either "Conduit Trusts" or "Accumulation Trusts." In a nutshell, Conduit Trusts must make the Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) each year, and Accumulation Trusts allow the trustee to accumulate the RMD for a later distribution. To qualify as a See Through Trust, certain specific requirements must be met. Because of these strict requirements, your typical revocable living trust will not qualify; another trust must be settled specifically to be the beneficiary of your IRA.

So why not just use a "Trusteed IRA" (also called "Individual Retirement Trust")? A Trusteed IRA is where the actual IRA agreement with the custodial account manager has some trust characteristics, such as requiring the beneficiary to only withdraw RMD, unless more is needed for health, education, support, etc. The main problem with a Trusteed IRA is that it cannot accumulate income, unlike an Accumulation Trust. A Trusteed IRA therefore might expose your minor child to more money earlier than you want him to receive it.

Example: Dad has substantial funds in his IRA. He doesn't want his two minor children to inherit too much too early, so he settles an Accumulation Trust, which provides for distributions to his children for health, education, maintenance, and support until they are 25, at which time they receive one-half of their share, and when they are 30 they receive the remainder of their share. Dad makes this Accumulation Trust the beneficiary of his IRA, and so his children are still able to stretch out the deferred income tax benefits of the IRA.

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The most common mistakes when managing personal finances

The ability to manage money competently is especially valuable quality in the conditions of financial crisis, when the purchasing power of the population is shrinking, inflation is rising, and currency exchange rates are completely unpredictable. Below are the common mistakes related to money affairs along with financial planning advice to help manage your own finances properly.

The budget is the most basic thing in financial planning. It is therefore especially important to be careful when compiling the budget. To start you have to draw up your own budget for the next month and only after it you may make a yearly budget.

As the basis takes your monthly income, subtract from it such regular expenses as the cost of housing, transportation, and then select 20-30% on savings or mortgage loan payment.

The rest can be spent on living: restaurants, entertainment, etc. If you are afraid of spending too much, limit yourself in weekly expenses by having a certain amount of ready cash.

"When people borrow, they think that they should return it as soon as possible," said Sofia Bera, a certified financial planner and founder of Gen Y Planning company. And at its repayment spend all that earn. But it's not quite rationally ".

If you don't have money on a rainy day, in case of an emergency (e.g. emergency of car repairs) you have to pay by credit card or get into new debts. Keep on account of at least $1000 in case of unexpected expenses. And gradually increase the "airbag" to an amount equal to your income for up to three-six months.

"Usually when people plan to invest, they only think about profit and they don't think that loss's possible", says Harold Evensky, the President of the financial management company Evensky & Katz. He said that sometimes people do not do basic mathematical calculations.

For example, forgetting that if in one year they lost 50%, and the following year they received 50% of the profits, they did not return to the starting point, and lost 25% savings. Therefore, think about the consequences. Get ready to any options. And of course, it would be wiser to invest in several different investment objects.

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How an Experienced Tax Professional Can Help Reduce Your Debt

Oftentimes, we think we know what’s best for us when it comes to handling our own finances. The truth of the matter is everyone could use a little help, especially when tax season rolls around.

Many people who are in debt might not see how a tax professional can help them. After all, a tax professional deals in all things that are related to taxes, right? Well, that actually depends on what kind of tax professional you hire.

The Service You Might Be Used To

There are many storefront tax services that specialize in the “quick and dirty” annual tax filing. Nothing more. Nothing less. If what they’ve filed for you renders an outcome that’s other than a refund, then you are essentially on your own to work out some type of payment arrangement.

The Type of Service You Should Get Used To

The professionals at Success Tax Relief are invested in our clients. We do what we can to help our clients take care of their annual filing and see to it that they receive their refund as quick as possible. If for some reason, they end up owing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), then we will also assist them with the means to making the payment. Oftentimes, the amount owed can be way more than taxpayers can afford. In cases like this, we communicate with the IRS on our client’s behalf to arrange an affordable monthly installment plan.

It can be said that other tax professionals do the exact same thing, but what sets Success Tax Relief apart from others is that we provide debt relief counseling services. We understand that when it comes to annual filings, sometimes you get a refund and sometimes you owe. It’s typically the owing part that can often get out of hand.

Managing Your IRS Payments

If you’re late with your filing or payments to the IRS, interests and penalty fees accrue, and if you’re already having issues keeping up with the payments, tacking on more money onto the existing debt can weigh you down. Because the consequences of a neglected tax payment are dire, this will certainly be the first debt that you want to pay. The problem is, other debts often get neglected because there’s only so much money to go around.

This is Where veridianfinance Tax Relief Can Help

The professionals at veridianfinance Tax Relief have over three decades of experience helping taxpayers like you stretch the dollar so that you’re taking care of all of your debt. We understand that many people who find themselves in debt are having problems managing it. This is usually the underlying problem and we have a service to specifically address just this.

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Swept Away? How to Avoid an Asset Protection “Perfect Storm”!

When it comes to asset protection, a lot can go right…but a lot can also go wrong. And often, what goes the most drastically wrong involves getting tripped up by details that can seem insignificant, even trivial — until they trigger the painful reality of being blown off course. Fortunately, these storms don’t have to sink you; they can be dealt with safely. But sometimes avoidance tactics seem to be more trouble than they’re worth, and you can wonder if all that detail is really necessary. Shortcuts are great if you know what they can (and can’t) do for you in the long run. But not knowing can get you in trouble — expensive trouble.

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify (Maybe)!

It’s only human nature to try to make things as simple as possible. And, in many cases, simplifying a process is the best thing you can do for yourself.  Why spend the time and effort working through Steps 1 thru 4 to reach Step 5 if an alternative approach allows you skip those intermittent steps and still arrive at Step 5 none the worse for wear?  There’s no reason not to take the shortcut, right?

Maybe. But the problem comes in when Steps 2 through 4 cover contingencies and provisions that may not be readily apparent to an untrained eye.  Specifically, the case I’m talking about today involves the difference in perspective between your CPA and your asset protection attorney.

Susan’s Situation

One of my clients, Susan, had me set up multiple single member Limited Liability Companies to protect a collection of rental properties for her.  In the process of doing this, a separate corporation was set up to manage these LLCs, with their secondary purposes of buying, rehabbing, and reselling the property. With the structure complete, and the rental properties deeded to appropriate LLCs, Susan’s corporation became a manager: its role was to manage all the holdings of the various LLCs. This included paying bills, collecting rents, and all those other myriad details.

Part of this structure included setting up a bank account for each LLC. That way, each could deposit rental income and pay bills associated with the properties held therein. One of these fees, in turn, is a management fee paid to the corporation for its monthly service, an amount determined in separate property management agreements with each LLC.

It Was Plenty Simple…

Under the structure, then, each LLC collected its own rent, paid its own bills, and distributed profits to Susan as sole owner. All my client then had to do was deposit monies into appropriate accounts and write a few checks each month.

….Or So I Thought.

For reasons I’m still not clear about, this simple structure became a hassle for Susan. When it did, her CPA stepped in and convinced her to close the individual LLC accounts. He told her that running everything through the management corporation would simplify and streamline the process. She could allocate her taxes through QuickBooks, merely by making ledger entries that indicated which LLC made income or sustained loss. She could run her business out of just one checkbook!

Susan was thrilled. She’d cut right through those pesky Steps 2 through 4, and her life was much simpler. And the system worked, for three good years…

Until someone sued Susan’s corporation.

Susan fought the lawsuit, but she lost, and a judgment was entered against her corporation. But, still, she thought — no problem. She could simply dissolve the corporation and walk away; after all, her assets were all held in separate LLCs, so her properties were protected from corporation debt. Right?

Unfortunately, Susan was wrong.

The plaintiff, confronted with her proposed action, sought to attach the assets of each LLC — and was successful.

“Why Didn’t You Protect Me?”

Understandably, Susan was upset by all this, and she came to me demanding to know why the plan I had created for her hadn’t protected her assets. This resulted in one of those difficult conversations, the kind we as asset protection pros hate to have: the one where you tell a client, as tactfully as possible, that your plan would have protected her, had she stuck to it. But she hadn’t.

That “running her business through one checkbook” became the “loophole” whereby her LLCs were no longer regarded as separate entities anymore. That, in fact, is why the court ruled the way it did: it cited that by failing to have separate bank accounts for each LLC, she had failed to treat them as separate businesses; the assets all became part of her corporation and were no longer “untouchable.”

Don’t Try This At Home! (Or Anywhere Else!)

The lesson learned? For asset protection, each of your businesses must be able to stand on its own. Don’t let a CPA or other professional convince you that you don’t have to bother with separate accounts, that you can sidestep important details, and still reach the same end. From a tax standpoint, the CPA might well be one hundred percent right; however, in terms of asset protection, he’s not. Trying to take “shortcuts” in this area can result in your “shorting out” your own plan…as it did for Susan.

Fortunately, you can avoid being swamped by an unexpected legal storm — but even the best CPA or tax specialist may not know about all the “life preservers” you’ll need to save yourself. That’s why it pays to consult professionals who deal with asset protection regulations every day. Call us, and we’ll gladly take you through all the steps you need to be sure…not sorry!

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5 Simple Ways to Create a Balance Sheet

First things first: what is a balance sheet? A balance sheet is an essential way to evaluate a business’ financial health and can be calculated every month, quarter or half-year to create a snapshot of a company’s net worth.

In this article, we will be discussing how to calculate an annual balance sheet for a business. Creating an annual balance sheet will help you evaluate the equilibrium between your company’s assets against its liabilities, to determine the overall financial strength and value of your business. For an example of a full balance sheet, scroll down to see the example at the end.

1. Understand the Basic Equation

The following equation is a simplified representation of what a Balance Sheet calculates: the total sum of your company’s assets equals the value of the company’s liabilities and owner’s equity.

Assets = Liabilities + Owner’s Equity

As with any math equation, you can play around with the equation to isolate one category. Most business owners and investors use the following equation to calculate the value of the company’s equity.

Owner’s Equity = Assets – Liabilities

2. Calculate Assets

Assets, money, investments, and products the business owns that can be converted into cash: These are what put companies in the financial positive. A thriving company should have assets that are greater than the sum of its liabilities; this creates value in the company’s equity or stock and opens up opportunities for financing.

It’s important to list your assets by their liquidity—the facility by which they can be turned into cash—starting with cash itself and moving into long-term investments at the end of the list. For the purpose of an annual balance sheet, you can separate your list between “Current Assets,” anything that can be converted into cash within a year or less, and “Fixed Assets,” long-term possessions that can be sold or that retain value down the line, minus depreciation.

“Current Assets” may include:

  • Cash: All money in checking or savings accounts
  • Securities: Investments, stocks, bonds, etc.
  • Accounts Receivable: Money owed to the business by a client or customer
  • Inventory: Any products or materials that have already been created or acquired for the purpose of sale
  • Prepaid Insurance: Any payments made in advance for business insurance coverage or services (this tends to be paid in advance for the year).

“Fixed Assets” may include:

  • Supplies: Important objects used for business operations (manufacturing equipment, computers, office furniture, company cars, etc.)
  • Property: Any office building or land owned by the business
  • Intangible Assets: Intellectual property such as patents, copyrights, trademarks and other company rights that retain intrinsic value

3. Determine Liabilities

Liabilities are the negative part of the equation; these include operational costs, debt and material expenses. Generally speaking, the lower your liabilities, the greater the value of your company (and equity) can be. “Current Liabilities” include cash spent, as well as any debts that must be paid out within one year, while “Fixed Liabilities” refer to bills due anytime after one year.

“Current Liabilities” may include:

  • Accounts Payable: Money owed by a business to its suppliers or partners
  • Business Credit Cards: Company credit card bills due
  • Operating Line of Credit: Any money owed to a bank that has extended the business an operating line of credit
  • Taxes Owed: Any federal and state taxes owed for one year
  • Wages and Payroll: Employee compensation, including wages, medical insurance, etc.
  • Unearned Revenue: Any revenue garnered from a service or product that has yet to be delivered to the customer or client

“Fixed Liabilities” may include:

  • Long-Term Mortgages: Property or building mortgage expenses
  • Bonds payable: Long-term bonds owed to the government, as well as any interest paid on the bond (this interest is often semi-annual and can be added to “Current Liabilities”)
  • Pension Benefit Obligations: The total amount of money the company owes to employee pension plans up to the current date
  • Shareholder’s Loan: A form of financing provided by shareholders
  • Car Loan: Any long-term car loans on company vehicles (plus insurances costs)

4. Equity Valuation

Owner’s Equity = Assets – Liabilities

The value of your assets minus your liabilities will result in an estimation of the value of your company’s capital. If this equation results in a negative net worth, this can be dangerous for a small business; it will make it difficult for to secure financing, which can be troubling for a company whose expenses are already eclipsing its profits.

If, however, a company has positive equity, this means that business owners have the option of acquiring capital by selling part of their business through equity, stocks and/or dividends.

In a sole proprietorship, this is called the “Owner’s Equity”; in a corporation, this is called “Stockholder’s Equity,” and it can include common stock, preferred stock, paid-in capital, retained earnings, etc.

“Equity” may include:

  • Opening Balance Equity: The initial investment into the company
  • Capital Stock: The common and preferred stock a company issues
  • Dividends Paid: Profits paid out to shareholders by a company (applies to corporations)
  • Owner’s Draw: Portion of the revenue used by company’s owner (applies to sole proprietorships)
  • Retained Earnings: The sum of a company’s consecutive earnings since it began

Having an Income Statement will assist you in filling out this section since it helps you determine the opening balance equity and the retained earnings.

5. Consider All Applications

When you put it all together, a balance sheet will probably look something like this:

balance sheet example

A solid balance sheet is an essential financial statement and part of a complete financial report. It can be used to secure financing or take a snapshot of a company’s current financial state, but it can also be used to evaluate the worth of your company over time. While accounting software like QuickBooks can easily generate balance sheets and other financial statements, it’s good to know the process to ensure your calculations are accurate.

Comparing your “Current Assets” minus “Current Liabilities” on a yearly basis will paint a picture of your company’s annual growth and expenses, which may have room for improvement. Calculating “Fixed Assets” minus “Fixed Liabilities” can provide a more long-term view of the company’s value over time and its ability to pay back long-term debts or expenses built up over many years.

Remember, the expenses of different companies may vary greatly, so don’t forget the assets and liabilities that are specific to your industry or area. For more help with balance sheets and other financial statements, see our infographic on financial reporting.

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A Simple 6-Step Process to Starting a Small Business

A great small business always starts out as an idea, but you have to transform that idea into action. That’s where many individuals can start to feel overwhelmed. It’s understandable to freeze up at the deluge of things that are required to get a business started, but getting going is actually easier than you might think.

Like any big goal, if you start by breaking it down into smaller tasks, you’ll be able to tackle enough of the actions necessary to get started. Here are six ways to break down the process and simplify getting started with your own small business.

1. Write a one-page business plan.

The key to a successful small business, especially in the startup phase, is to keep things simple and costs low. Costs don’t just mean your monetary costs, but also your time.

Many would-be small-business owners fall into the trap of trying to create the world's biggest and most robust business plan. You’re only going to need that if you’re seeking investment or financing, and even if you will be seeking either of those things down the road, I always recommend small-business owners start out with by testing their ideas first before investing lots of time and money.

Related: Why You Must Really Know Yourself Before Starting a Business

So to get started, create your own simple, one-page business plan that is a high-level overview of the small business you’re about to start.

  1. Define your vision. What will be the end result of your business? 
  2. Define your mission. Different to a vision, your mission should explain the reason your company exists.
  3. Define your objectives. What are you going to do -- what are your goals -- that will lead to the accomplishment of your mission and your vision?
  4. Outline your basic strategies. How are you going to achieve the objectives you just bulleted?
  5. Write a simple action plan. Bullet out the smaller task-oriented actions required to achieve the stated objectives.

That’s it. It might be longer than one page, but it will surely be more organized and shorter than a full business plan, which could take weeks to write. If you need more information on the one-page business plan, or want to write out a full-blown finance-centered business plan.

2. Decide on a budget.

While I highly recommend you keep your costs as low as possible, you’ll still need to determine a budget to get started and how much you’ll be able to spend. If you’re self-funding, be realistic about numbers and whatever you anticipate your budget to be. I’ve found that an additional 20 percent tacked on for incidentals is a realistic overage amount that helps you plan your burn rate.

Your burn rate is how much cash you’re spending a month over month. It’s an important number for you to figure out to determine how long you can stay in business before you need to turn a profit.

You should set up your business with profitability in mind the first 30 to 90 days. It’s possible. But have a budget reserve so you can survive if things go leaner than expected.

3. Decide on a legal entity.

Filing paperwork to start a business costs money. Often, depending on your state, it can be a lot of money. You’ll need to account for city or municipality licensing, state incorporation or business entity fees and more. Do a thorough search ahead of time to determine what the filing fees are for your city, county and state before starting any business.

Often in the initial “test” phase for your small business, it can be wise to start as a sole proprietor, as it means less paperwork and up-front expenses. That can save you some big-time cash while you determine the viability of your business. Do be aware though that acting as a sole proprietor can put you at personal risk, so you’ll want to weigh the benefits vs. risks and then speak with a local attorney or tax professional to decide which is smarter for your short-term vs. long-term goals.

You can always file for a business entity once you’ve proven in the first three to six months of business that you’ve got a viable, sustainable model.

4. Take care of the money.

Whatever business entity you decide on, keep the funds separate from your personal accounts. This is a big mistake that makes tax time and financials so confusing. It’s really easy to set up a free business checking account with your local credit union or bank. All you’ll need is your filing paperwork, sole proprietor licensing information and an initial deposit to get set up from most financial institutions.

Don’t pay for an account or get any kind of credit lines yet, just get a holding place you can keep your money separate from your personal accounts. This should take you no more than an hour at the financial institution of your choice.

5. Get your website.

Regardless of whether your business will be brick or mortar or online, you’ll need a website and that means securing a URL. Popular domain sites such as HostGator and Go Daddy will allow you to search for the website domain address of your choice and purchase it for as little as $9.99.

If you’re starting an online business, you can tie your domain to an online shopping cart and store front such as Shopify for a low monthly fee, or you can build a basic website yourself on top of your URL with do-it-yourself drag-and-drop site builders such as Weebly for a low fee. Both are less than $100 a month.

6. Test sales.

You have enough of a foundation now that you can start testing some sales. Try to spread the word in inexpensive and creative ways.

If you have a service-based business, get involved with your local chamber of commerce or small-business chapter immediately and ask what resources are available for you to speak, present or share information about your business. If you have a product-based business, test the viability of your product at local swap meets, farmers markets or other community events to test what the public really thinks (and if they'll purchase) from you.

Drive traffic to your website through simple Facebook Ads with capped budgets, or set up a simple Google AdWords account with a budget cap to test if traffic is going to your site.

You can follow these six steps by yourself for not a lot of money. It’s a fantastic way to test the viability of your small business before throwing all your time and money into an unproven idea.

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Business Leadership Training Tips to Keep Employees Happy

Even the best manager can learn from these business leadership training tips.

As a leader, it is essential to keep your team motivated if you want them to reach their goals. Over time, even the best manager can tire from the effort it can take to keep your team motivated.  Find new ways to keep your company moving forward in a positive direction with these business leadership training tips that will keep both your employees and your bottom line happy.

Find inspiration
Take a moment out of your busy day to get back to nature.  Go for a quiet walk and think about what really motivates you.  This will help you to more effectively visualize your goals so you can lead your team towards achieving those same objectives.

Let them know you care
One of the best business leadership training tips is very simple.  Show your team that you care about them and that you appreciate their efforts.  Sometimes the best employees are taken for granted, so make sure that they know you care.

Keep it positive
While this might sound a bit corny, it’s essential when leading a team to keep the negative thoughts and tendencies from impacting your workday.  Be positive and work hard to maintain an environment that empowers people instead of tearing them down.

Keep your team motivated
People work better when they have the proper motivation.  While a good salary is great, it’s usually not enough to keep employees happy. Find ways of rewarding good performance, especially those employees that go above and beyond.

Delegate to trusted employees
Employees that have proven themselves to have the company’s best interests at heart would likely welcome more responsibility.  Encourage them by delegating some work to them.  This will free up your team for other business leadership training efforts for new and creative ideas.

Do you want to generate more leads and close more deals? veridianfinance helps you to nurture relationships and win more customers with automated sales follow-up! Schedule a free demo and we’ll show you how our software can increase efficiency and improve sales at your company!

Demonstrate transparency
No employee likes being left in the dark.  When something arises that impact the department, their job, or the company, try your best to keep them informed as much as possible.

Praise in public and critique in private
This business leadership training tip is very basic.  Make sure that when your employee works on a project that is worthy of praise, do so in public such as at a departmental or company meeting.  But when you need to give an employee a good talking to, always do so in private. No one likes to be humiliated in front of their peers or superiors.

Give your employees a voice
Create a work environment that empowers your staff to voice their concerns and ideas.  Giving them a platform to share their knowledge will keep them happy and appreciated in a way that a mere salary alone could never do.

Perseverance is key to success
Every good leader knows that giving up when things get tough is never an option. But don’t allow your pride to keep you from refocusing your team’s energies from time to time.  Use the lessons learned from conversations with customers to ensure they persevere.

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What exactly do you need to consider when looking for the perfect premises?

A universal answer to the question of what makes the perfect office space doesn’t exist. The kind of space you need, and will be comfortable in, depends entirely on the type of business you’re running. The same goes for the amount of space needed per worker. If all you require is a small desk and a phone connection, you don’t need masses of square footage. However, if your office also acts as your shop floor – a place to meet with clients – you’ll want a bit more space and possibly a more attractive and accessible location.

When it comes to size, Ann Clarke, design director at Claremont Group Interiors, is reluctant to dwell on average measurements because of the varying nature of what you need the space for. “Organisations like the British Council of Offices have certain recommendations but they’re reducing all the time because space is becoming increasingly expensive,” she explains.


However, there are some rough industry standards. For example, a densely packed call centre can get away with about 6-7 square metres per head, but a professional services firm will need more like 10-12 to allow for consultation space for clients.

It’s also important to bear in mind how much of the space is actually usable, and this can be dramatically affected by the shape of the building. “There are lots of things that impact the efficiency of a space,” says Clarke. “The shape of a building, where the lifts and stairs are and the amount of circulation space all make a difference. It all depends on how the floor plate is laid out.”

Clarke says the ideal office has a usable space/circulation space ratio of 85:15. “Once it falls below 85% it can get difficult and you won’t be able to use the space efficiently.”

If you want to minimise the amount of square footage you need, Clarke advises implementing some clever desk policies. Just because you employ 50 people, it doesn’t mean you need 50 desks. Working practices such as desk booking and hotdesking can work wonders if many of your staff are only in the office at certain times during the day or week.

“Think long and hard about storage too,” urges Clarke. “Do you really need to store all that paper on site, or can it be stored digitally or moved to cheaper storage facilities? You should have a clear idea about how you’re going to manage your storage before you commit to a particular space.”

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